Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Deutsche Grammophon 136 211 Fricsay's Great Ballet from Opera

Deutsche Grammophon 136 211
Opera Ballets

Ferenc Fricsay, conductor
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

Pressing: Blue tulips, red stereo
Condition: EX


Date first published: 1961

Performance: 10/10

Sound: 8/10

Price Range: $28-133, mean $81 on popsike

Comments: This one came as quite a surprise.  I wasn't expecting one of these early red stereo label, blue tulips DG LPs to have stunning sound, but I was actually impressed when I dropped the needle on this one.  We have a program of ballet music from the opera, with Ferenc Fricsay at the helm of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.  This must have been a trend for the classical LP market at the time, because we have at least a few other contemporary releases including ones from RCA (LSC-2400 with Fistoulari and the PCO -- highly valuable and stunning in sound) and UK Columbia (SAX 2421 with Karajan and the BPO, definitely respectable sound).  The repertoire, not surprisingly, is similar between them:  music from Verdi's Aida is on all three albums, music from Ponchielli's La Gioconda is on the DG and Columbia, music from Mussorgsky's Khovantschina is on the RCA and the Columbia.  This one happens to have music from Gounod's Faust, which is always enjoyable, Verdi's Othello, and the Waltz and Polonaise from Tchaikovsky's Eugen Onegin, so by program alone, this DG album wins out in my book.  The performances are lively and energetic.  Who'd have thought that the Dance of the hours from La Gioconda would later be the focus of several parodies, including a Spike Jones spinoff and the Allen Sherman song "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah"?  The album may not have quite the incredible sonics of the Fistoulari record, but it is no slouch either.  I heard a very nice, wide and deep soundstage with excellent dynamics, a pleasing treble, and decent bass.  As you can see, there is quite a wide price range on this one.  I picked mine up for $24 on Ebay, which I thought was reasonable, and if you look hard enough, you'll find it without burning a hole in your wallet.


  1. These older DG are hard to find in the USA. The sound is certainly different from the later DG LP's where they polished the stampers (removed noise and high frequency detail.) These old LP's would have been tube mastered. With many of these if you look in the deadwax it will actually have the year the LP was pressed. I am not sure if this is the case with the earliest DG. What say you AQL?

    1. I'll need to check the deadwax .... will get back to you!